Heroes Among Us – Ryan Morris
1 Apr 2019
Heroes Among Us
First State Bank, CEO
It is rare in today’s busy world to find a company whose legacy of community giving lasts five generations. We are fortunate to have such a company, First State Bank, here in Gainesville.
It is no accident that the mission statement for First State Bank focuses on Community as our home, Customers as our neighbors and Employees as our family. “Our core values are part of who we are and who we have al- ways been,” said Ryan Morris, CEO. “When we invest in something that is good for our community, it is good for us. We live here, this is our home. When we make our home a better place to live, it is going to be a better place to work, too.”
First State Bank can be traced back to 1905. Public charters for state banks became available on August 18th of that year and First State Bank in Gainesville was charter # 11. Today it is the only remaining state bank from those originally chartered still operating, making it the oldest state bank in Texas, serving communities in four contiguous counties in North Texas. It is remarkable how this company, with shareholders across Cooke County and North Texas, have trusted five generations of the Morris family with critical leadership roles. That is a vote of confidence that is uncommon in the public realm.
The community values and culture began with the bank’s founders, including J. Frank Morris and Frank Morris Jr. They were part of a small group of business leaders at the turn of the century who had vision and determination to make the community a better place. Morris Jr. was among the founders of the Rotary Club and the Community Chest, later to become Cooke County United Way. First State Bank continues to support United Way, making it their largest annual gift. In 2018, they matched their employee contributions for a total of $86,000.
How significant is their impact on our community? It is common for a company’s giving to be 1% of their profits. FSB gives roughly five times as much of their profits back to the communities they call home. In recent years, they made large contributions to help build the African Savanah at the Frank Buck Zoo, the Performing Arts Cen- ter at North Central Texas College, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County. This summer, FSB made a seven -figure contribution to NCTC for the naming rights of the new downtown Denton campus, opening in 2019.
FSB gives more than just dollars. Their employees give of their time and talent. Last year the employees of First State Bank donated 1,969 volunteer hours, rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. In fact, FSB’s annual em- ployee evaluations include a section on community involvement. That is called “walking the talk.”
First State Bank also helps to educate the community with the Financial Literacy programs they developed for stu- dents and adults. They educate students in our school districts on familiarization of banking and financial terms, and smart spending and saving. They also provide education to senior citizens and take a personal interest in help- ing them avoid circumstances in today’s world that leave seniors vulnerable to fraud. Their efforts were recog- nized this year with a special award from the Independent Bankers Association of Texas.
First State Bank is a hometown hero who helps grow our community and improve our quality of life. They have grown from a company of 20 employees to one with 184 employees in Cooke County and close to 265 employees system-wide. With 113 years of consistently living by their core values, we are excited to see what comes next.